The fall of gun control: Terror, hurricanes spur gun ownershipDate: Tuesday, March 14, 2006 @ 20:39:43 CST
Topic: ICarry.org Financial
The fall of gun control: Terror, hurricanes spur gun ownership
Tom Collins and Shelby Sebens
printed in the N Central Illinois Tribune
was more outraged than Allan Vander Meersch when Illinois
proposed charging gun owners $650 to carry a firearm ownerâ€™s ID
card â€” a whopping increase from the current $5 fee.
The Spring Valley machinist, who draws a modest living
selling firearms and ammunition at gun shows, was not surprised
by the move, however.
Vander Meersch began hunting with his father at age 5
and joined the National Rifle Association in 1970. In the 30
years since, heâ€™s been quick to phone legislators to support or
oppose gun legislation. Mostly, itâ€™s been in opposition.
â€śThe atmosphere for gun ownership has changed 300
percent â€” 100 percent for every 10 years Iâ€™ve been involved,â€ť
Vander Meersch said. â€śItâ€™s not changing in a direction that
favors people who own firearms.â€ť
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Like the gun-rights organizations he belongs to, Vander
Meersch describes himself as non-partisan and said he votes for
candidates from either side if he approves of their Second
Amendment voting records â€” a position that usually aligns him
with the GOP.
That may be changing, however.
Since the Sept. 11 terror attacks and especially since
Hurricane Katrina, Americans are taking pro-gun positions. Both
events underscored the ease with which civil order can collapse,
and have renewed peopleâ€™s interest in home security.
Democrats have been getting the message that gun control
is becoming a loser with voters. Since 2000, some Democrats â€”
though not all â€” have begun courting the gun lobby to get
lobby to get endorsements and contributions.
â€śEvery American with any sense at all got a clear sense
that the government canâ€™t protect you,â€ť said Richard Pearson,
executive director of the Illinois State Rifle Association,
based in Chatsworth. â€śIf you look at Hurricane Katrina, you see
that they may not be interested in protecting you.â€ť
The gun constituency in Illinois is not small. State
police reports there are about 1.2 million valid FOID
cardholders â€” nearly 10 percent of the overall population â€” and
the agency process more than 200,000 new applications a year.
Chicago remains squarely in the hands of gun-control
stalwarts such as mayor Richard M. Daley, but Pearson said
downstate and even suburban Democrats are moving away from gun
â€śMany of the people who are traditional Democrats â€” I
would say labor and many women â€” are discovering that the values
they hold, particularly on firearms, are not typical of the
values of the Democratic Party,â€ť Pearson said. â€śIf that
continues, the liberals in the Democratic Party will be further
Campaign finance records back that up. Prior to 2000,
ISRA didnâ€™t give a cent to any Democrats in the Illinois
But in 2001, former state Rep. Mary K. Oâ€™Brien of Coal
City (now an appellate justice in Ottawa), whose district
included eastern La Salle County, accepted a $250 contribution.
She was one of six Democrats to get $1,580 in contributions from
Republicans continue to draw the lionâ€™s share of dollars
from the gun lobby, but Oâ€™Brien, her successor Careen Gordon
(D-Coal City), and state Rep. Frank Mautino (D-Spring Valley),
all have drawn recommendations from the gun lobby.